Should I supplement with formula? Formula Feeding

iStock/Paperkites

infant formula
iStock/Paperkites

While some moms breastfeed exclusively, others include formula in their baby's diet. See what the experts say -- and why some nursing moms turned to formula -- to find out if supplementing is right for you.

If Baby Needs to Gain Weight

"This is a personal choice. If your baby is not gaining and growing as needed, then you may consider supplementing. If you have a big supply of breast milk with a lot stored, it may not be necessary. If your supply is low and you do not have a lot of extra, it may be a good idea for your baby to have the exposure to formula. You can start with one feeding a day. Consult your pediatrician." -- Heidi Miller, pediatric speech pathologist and feeding specialist, Heidi Miller Speech LLC, Florham Park, NJ

Only for Medical Reasons

"Unless there is a medical reason to supplement with formula, your breast milk is all your baby needs. When a supplement is needed, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends first trying to use the mother's own milk, followed by pasteurized donor human milk (if available). If neither of these are available, then formula should be offered. Providing formula unnecessarily can lead to overfeeding your baby and also may lead to a decrease in your milk supply since the supply and demand...

"Unless there is a medical reason to supplement with formula, your breast milk is all your baby needs. When a supplement is needed, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends first trying to use the mother's own milk, followed by pasteurized donor human milk (if available). If neither of these are available, then formula should be offered. Providing formula unnecessarily can lead to overfeeding your baby and also may lead to a decrease in your milk supply since the supply and demand nature of breastfeeding may be disrupted. If you have concerns about whether your baby is getting enough milk, talk to your child's health-care provider or a breastfeeding specialist." -- Sahira Long, MD, medical director, Children's Health Center at Anacostia, part of Children's National Health System in Washington, DC

The Decision Is Entirely Yours

"The main reason supplementation would be strongly suggested is if your baby is losing an unhealthy amount of weight, indicating he is not getting the proper amount of milk. With that said, deciding to supplement for other reasons is okay too, as long as it's a decision you are comfortable with. If you are wondering if supplementing with formula is right for you, I would suggest consulting your baby's pediatrician." -- Skyler Gardner, RN, BSN, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA

Work Schedule Can Be a Factor

"I work 40 hours a week. For the past month, I've only been able to pump about 4 ounces all day. This is not enough to adequately feed my daughter and it has put a lot of stress on me. I've decided to supplement with formula until I can get my pumping supply back up."

Previous Surgery Could Affect Feeding

"I had a breast reduction 10 years ago, and was only able to breastfeed a short while with my first. Armed with knowledge and determination, I'm feeding my second child only at the breast, but do have to supplement with an SNS (supplemental nursing system)."

It Won't Ruin Your Breastfeeding Relationship

"My daughter wasn't having enough wet diapers, so supplementing has worked for us. She still gets the benefits of breastfeeding, but I give her a bottle midday and one before bed."

Nursing Doesn't Have to Be All or Nothing

"There is no reason you can't breastfeed and formula feed. I always have supply issues and end up having to give my kids formula, but that's never stopped me from breastfeeding too."

Breastfeeding Is So Much More Than Milk

"It's comfort and attachment and mothering. Even though my kids did get formula, they still got all the nurturing and benefits from being at the breast too."

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.